- Play by
- Man of
Dutch Cruise Into Quarters
The Netherlands' team celebrate after Arjen Robben scores the opening goal
The Netherlands cruised into the quarterfinals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup with a comfortable 2-1 win over Slovakia in a last 16 tie at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Goals from Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder were enough to hand Bert Van Marwijk’s side a probable last eight game against Brazil (who face Chile in Johannesburg tonight) in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Slovakia pulled a goal back from the penalty spot deep in injury time but it was nothing more than a consolation.
It was another sound but relatively dour performance from the men in orange, whose play in this tournament has been characterised by workmanlike performances rather than the usual flair and style associated with them.
However, a fourth straight win and a place in the last eight cannot be argued with, though they will definitely face a tougher test in their next outing.
The Dutch handed Robben his first start of the tournament, with Rafael Van Der Vaart dropping to the bench due to a calf injury.
And the winger announced his arrival in the 18th minute, cutting inside from the right before unleashing a low shot on his favoured left foot from just outside the penalty area that beat goalkeeper Jan Mucha and put the Oranje into an early lead.
The Netherlands should have been in front even earlier but neither Robin Van Persie nor Sneijder were able to capitalise on their chances, while Slovakia saw long range drives from Erik Jendrisek and Marek Hamsik fly just off target.
There was little goalmouth action in the remainder of the first half, with Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg not once called upon to make a save, while his opposite number Mucha made one comfortable stop from a scuffed Van Persie shot five minutes before the break.
Early in the second half Mucha kept Slovakia in the running with two great saves, turning a Robben shot around his post for a corner kick and then showing superb reflexes to block a close-range Joris Mathijsen effort.
Holland’s Stekelenburg had not had any saves to make up until past the hour mark when he was suddenly called upon to make two excellent stops within a minute, tipping over a Miroslav Stoch and then somehow keeping out a close range drive from Robert Vittek that looked destined to bring Slovakia level.
Dirk Kuyt headed over a Sneijder free kick with just 20 minutes to play and then saw a low drive well palmed away by the defiant Mucha, whose heroics at the back kept his side’s hopes alive.
Vittek had another chance to bring his side level in the 78th minute but, when gifted with space in the Netherlands penalty area, he hesitated and allowed two defenders to close him down before he eventually lifted his shot over the crossbar.
On 84 minutes the Dutch sealed their victory with a goal from Sneijder. A quick free kick saw Kuyt catch out Mucha by flicking the ball past the keeper with his head before setting up the Netherlands no.10 to score into a virtually unguarded net.
Vittek pulled one back with literally the last kick of the game in injury time, scoring from the penalty spot to join Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain at the top of the scoring charts with four goals.